CAMP CASEY, Republic of Korea - "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
This is a part of a very famous speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who continuously fought for freedom and equality during civil rights movement. His devotion and passion made him one of the three figures that are honored with a national holiday in the United States.
On Jan. 11, Soldiers of 210th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division got together to acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr. for his incredible courage and leadership in quest for equality at the Casey Theater.
Sgt. First Class Noah Fuller, Tucson, Ariz. native and a signal support systems specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th FAB, 2ID/RUCD a cited an excerpt from 'I Have a Dream' speech during the observance.
"It was something different, having the idea of someone from different races and genders," said Fuller. "I think the speech meant something to everybody, everyone being equal. I have children, and they don't have to worry about being judged by the color of their skin and not by the content of their character."
Lt. Col. Julian T. Urquidez, the battalion commander of 2-4 FAR, 210th FA Bde, 2ID/RUCD gave opening remarks to begin the observance.
"We arrive once again to give honor to the great, and I say again, the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," he began. "This observance celebrates the life and legacy of a man, who brought hope and healing to America."
Urquidez highly praised Dr. King for his characteristics and spirit. "On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness, and non-violence that empowered his revolutionary spirit."
After the opening remarks, the observance was followed by a speech from Command Sgt. Maj. Freddie Thompson IV, 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th FAB command sergeant major who spoke about his own experience with discrimination.
"I remember a Soldier many years ago who joined the Army," began Thompson. "He had a top APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) score amongst his peers, and won the boards up to the division level. But there was a reason nonetheless, that kept him from being promoted. A leader who had a personal agenda against this Soldier because of the color of his skin."
Thompson said that for over two years, his platoon sergeant mistreated the Soldier just because of his skin color. Things didn't seem to go well for the Soldier until a helping hand came to save him.
"It was a challenge the Soldier felt he was born to lose," continued Thompson. "But a professional noncommissioned officer, leader, who was in another platoon decided to face the challenge with the Soldier. In his mind, the only color that matters was the green uniform on the Soldier's back, and the red blood flowing through his veins."
With the help of this NCO, the Soldier was finally able to get promoted and reenlist.
"Face the challenge with the Soldiers, for those Soldiers, because you are a Soldier. Now promise me that with a Hooah!" said Thompson as he recollected what the NCO said. Tears began to well up Thompson's eyes and there was crack in his voice as he continued his speech.
"Twenty three years later that Soldier is still serving Soldiers with a master degree of leadership studies and I kept that promise, and I still say Hooah!," said Thompson.
Thompson emphasized what the Army should learn from Dr. King's example.
"He's a brave person who stood up for what he believed in, that represents something bigger than himself," Thompson said. "He means a lot because the Army is not just one person, but a group of organizations. We have to stand up and fight for those who are being suppressed, as defenders of freedom."
Dr. King's legacy has not only affected the world, but left a lasting impact on Thompson himself.
"For me, it was about being brave as a leader, and understanding that all people should be treated equally," said Thompson. "Treat people as the way you want to be treated. Everyone has to be treated fair."
"Also, I want my Soldiers to be brave, and don't be scared to face a challenge," Thompson continued. "You may not always win, but the point is being brave. Also, even a private has a right to be treated fairly. If you're not, don't be afraid to stand up and let your voice be heard. That way, leaders can do what they are supposed to do.
Every day, there are people who are required to make decisions that would impact tens, hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people. But what remains the same is the equality of human beings. And the challenge by evil, is the job of the fair just to be the light. Regardless of the challenge, it would be met, faced and conquered."